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Kalitta, Tasca and J. Coughlin Take Provisional No. 1 Spots at NHRA 4-Wide Nationals

Reigning world champion Doug Kalitta made the quickest Top Fuel run on Friday at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, powering to the provisional No. 1 spot at the 24th annual NHRA 4-Wide Nationals.

Bob Tasca III (Funny Car) and Jeg Coughlin Jr. (Pro Stock) are also the provisional No. 1 qualifiers at the fourth of 20 races during the 2024 NHRA Mission Foods Drag Racing Series season.

Kalitta went to the top position with a run of 3.779-seconds at 332.02 mph in his 11,000-horsepower Mac Tools dragster, putting the defending champ in line for his first No. 1 qualifier this season and the 54th in his career. He also looks to add to Kalitta Motorsports’ success this season, after teammate Shawn Langdon has won two of the first three races in Top Fuel, while J.R. Todd also sits in the points lead.

“That was a really nice run for us,” Kalitta said. “We just switched to that car (last week) in Phoenix, so we’re just kind of trying to figure out a new car, which is much different than what we’ve been running. The conditions are probably going to be a little warm tomorrow, so we’ll have the same opportunity tomorrow to see if we can run those numbers again, and we’re looking forward to it.

“We’ve been qualifying well, and for whatever reason we got beat early in the rounds on Sunday, so we’re definitely looking for a good long day here (on Sunday).”

Steve Torrence took the second spot thanks to his 3.800 at 332.75 and defending event winner Antron Brown is right behind with his 3.803 at 329.99.

Bob Tasca III impressed in both Funny Car sessions on Friday, making the quickest run of both sessions, including his 3.931 at 332.02 to close out the day in his 11,000-horsepower BG Products Ford Mustang. If that run holds, Tasca would earn his first No. 1 qualifier of the season and 17th in his career. Making a pair of strong runs on a warm day also meant a lot to Tasca, who is searching for his first victory of the season after a strong 2023 campaign. Tasca is also after his second 4-Wide Nationals win in Las Vegas following his victory at the track in 2021.

“This morning, I told my crew chiefs [Aaron Brooks and Todd Okuhara] that I didn’t want to be going quicker than 3.95 and do not want to break 330 mph,” Tasca said. “I wanted them to prove to me that they can go slow when the weather’s hot. In the first round, and they were everything was good, they listened to me, we ran 3.96. Everything’s beautiful. 

“I told them the exact same thing, not to change anything for the second run, then Austin [Prock] goes 3.94 right in front of us. Aaron goes in the [tuning] box, he looks at me and says, ‘I’m really sorry, but we’re going to break out,’ and it left and felt good and ran a huge speed. The number that impressed me the most was the 332. It was exactly what we needed to do after two very tough races for us.”

Austin Prock, who won last weekend in Phoenix, is second with a strong run of 3.947 at 321.42, while his team owner, John Force, sits third thanks to his run of 3.962 at 313.73. Force won the Winternationals last weekend in Phoenix as well.

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Things continue to round into form for Jeg Coughlin Jr., as the five-time Pro Stock world champ went to the provisional No. 1 spot with a run of 6.641 at 206.89 in his Scag Power Equipment car. It puts the veteran in line for his second straight top spot as he looks to build on his Phoenix success. Things are coming together quickly for Coughlin, who came out of retirement to run a full season in 2024, and he’s been impressed with how well his team has come together in such a short time. Coughlin has five career wins at Las Vegas but is looking for his first here in a four-wide format.

“This shows that our team is beginning to jell, from the crew chiefs to myself behind the wheel,” Coughlin said. “We’ve managed to make solid qualifying runs all season long. In Pomona, I had an unfortunate early exit and that stung a bit but we made a nice rebound in Phoenix.

“Now, here we are in Las Vegas, and I made a nice 6.64 run in Q1 and that held through Q2 after the heat set in. Tomorrow, the track should be a little better, and the weather might be better so that 6.64 might be in jeopardy. Hopefully, if that happens, it’s the SCAG-mobile that does it.”

Greg Anderson is currently qualified second thanks to his run of 6.657 at 205.38, while Jerry Tucker moved to third to close out the day with a pass of 6.670 at 206.16.

Qualifying continues at 11:30 a.m. ET on Saturday at the NHRA 4-Wide Nationals at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

This story was originally published on April 12, 2024. Drag Illustrated

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